Medicaid mythbuster No. 3: Medical care when you need it


By Jon M. Bailey

Guest Columnist

Another frequent complaint about Medicaid is that it provides substandard medical coverage. Once again though, the numbers tell a different story. Medicaid coverage provides health care financial peace-of-mind. Not surprisingly, few Medicaid beneficiaries experience financial issues related to health care.

Only 10 percent of those with Medicaid had problems paying medical bills, and 19 percent have at least one medical bill that is a problem or a debt. More people with private insurance had both (21 percent with problems paying or unable to pay a medical bill, and 33 percent with at least one problem medical bill or medical debt). The uninsured face even more serious health care-related financial difficulties. Over a third (35 percent) of the uninsured have problems paying medical bills. Nearly half of the uninsured (47 percent) have at least one problem medical bill or medical debt.

Medicaid out-performs private insurance or being uninsured for measures of obtaining health care when it is needed. Only 10 percent of those on Medicaid did not visit a doctor or clinic with a medical problem requiring treatment, compared to 17 percent of those with private insurance and 40 percent of the uninsured. Only 13 percent of those on Medicaid did not fill a prescription, compared to 15 percent of those with private insurance and 30 percent of the uninsured.

Moreover, less than a quarter of those on Medicaid (23 percent) had at least one cost-related health care access problem. Meanwhile 30 percent of those with private insurance and 54 percent of the uninsured had at least one cost-related health care access problem.

Jon M. Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs can be reached at [email protected] He is a rural policy and research expert and former Center for Rural Affairs Policy and Research director. Contact him at [email protected]

Jon M. Bailey of the Center for Rural Affairs can be reached at [email protected] He is a rural policy and research expert and former Center for Rural Affairs Policy and Research director. Contact him at [email protected]

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